Calling machinima makers in Second Life: Project Sci-Fi 2015 is open!

JayJay Zifanwee of the University of Western Australia (UWA) informs me that The Sci-Fi Film Festival will once again be held in Australia, hosted and sponsored by the Parramatta City Council.

Taking place over the three days of October 30th through November 1st inclusive, the Festival will once again include the Project Sci-Fi Challenge, in which film makers and machinima makers from around the world are challenged to create a short sci-fi film in just 30 days.

The UWA is once again partnering with Project Sci-Fi organisers Screen My Shorts, and will cover the Challenge entry fees for any machinima filmed in Second Life. There is a prize pool of AU $5,750 on offer, and according to JayJay, Second Life machinima makers should be eligible for the Animation and International Film categories as well as the overall prizes.

“We feel that in a SciFi category, those filming in Second Life have a huge advantage over those using conventional filming methods, and we hope that all of you machinimatogtraphers and filmmakers in Second Life use this advantage fully,” Jayjay said.

It has certainly been fertile ground for SL machinima makers in the past. In 2013, Tutsy Navarathna was the best overall winner in the machinima category of the 2013 Challenge (then sponsored by Western Digital) with his brilliant The Residents, a remarkable tale of worlds within worlds, and a clever twist involving SL (seen above), with Erythro Asimov taking the 2nd prize with Looking Around (below), as well as several other prize-winning entries.

So, if you’re interested in applying, take a read through the guidelines linked-to above, and make sure you read the Project Sci-Fi Guidelines and the official rules to fully understand the requirements of entry and the competition time line. When you enter, please consider letting  Jayjay know, either via in-world contact or via e-mail (, and good luck!

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An Umbral summer in Second Life

Umbral Photography, Hydra Isles; Inara Pey, July 2015, on FlickrUmbral Photography, July 2015 (Flickr)

December 2014 saw me make an initial visit to Umbral Photography and Umbral, designed and curated by vlady and Coqueta Veeper on their homestead region of Hydra Isles. In that piece, I noted that the region can go through seasonal changes, and at the time of writing back then, the northern hemisphere was in deepest winter, and the region was similarly in the grip of deep snow, and the waters had a decidedly chilly look to them.

Now, half a year later, the snows have thawed, the skies are blue, and the flowers are all in bloom.  Summer has come to the region, and with it have come a few changes to the landscape.

Umbral Photography, Hydra Isles; Inara Pey, July 2015, on FlickrUmbral Photography, July 2015 (Flickr)

Umbral Photography still occupies the southern half of the region, a place devoted to photography (indoors and out), with open rezzing for visitors (please make sure you clean up behind you!).

A stone henge has been added to the landscape since my last visit, standing on a small island a short walk from the landing point. A copse facing cross the main footpath is also, I think, a more recent addition. However, Cory Edo’s delightful summer-house still sits over the water, the little tea party area is still available, and the house offering indoor photo opportunities still stands in the south-west corner, while the tall grass still lines the horizon, marking more distant islets to be explored.

Umbral Photography, Hydra Isles; Inara Pey, July 2015, on FlickrUmbral Photography, July 2015 (Flickr)

The divide between Umbral Photography and Umbral runs through the henge, but the north side of the island is as open to the public as the south, and as photogenic. There have been some changes here as well; perhaps most noticeably the arrival of a Ferris wheel on the north-east headland, and which has perhaps seen better days.

The principal difference between the north and south parcels of the region, as I noted in my original review, is that the former is home to a club given over to erotica and D/s activities. Visitors are welcome, as long as they follow the guidelines supplied upon arrival, and activities are confined to within the building. However, if this is not to your taste, you might want to focus on exploring the rest of the region.

Umbral Photography, Hydra Isles; Inara Pey, July 2015, on FlickrUmbral Photography, July 2015 (Flickr)

We’re in the middle of a heat wave here in the UK right now, with temperatures exceeding those of the Mediterranean in some places. Given this, walking through the waters of Hydra Isles had me thinking that the day VR truly arrives will be the day when, while it may be scorching outside, the simple act of stepping into a suitable virtual environment and wading through ankle-deep clear waters can immediately have one cooling down nicely!

I guess that until that does happen, I can take comfort in the fact that this is England, and as such summer will likely be over by Sunday. In the meantime, I’ll keep paddling my feet in the waters of in-world locations like this in the hope of feel just that little bit cooler!

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Different Districts in Second Life

Distrito Disinto, MetaLES
Distrito Disinto, MetaLES

The last time I visited MetaLES, the art region run by Romy Nayar and Ux Hax, it was to visit Romy’s brilliant Sparkys, which I wrote about here.

Since then, I’ve not really had a chance to drop in and see what’s going on, so when both Honour and Ziki poked me about a new celebratory installation there that had just opened (and which will remain open until August 13th, 2015) as a celebration of MetaLES and its support group, ..O.., I knew I’d had to pop along and take a look.

Distrito Disinto, MetaLES - Cica Ghost's
Distrito Disinto, MetaLES: Cica Ghost – Lullaby

Distrito Disinto – or Different Districts, if you prefer, presents a concept that’s simple enough: the visitor is taken on a journey through a series of rooms, or “districts”, as if travelling through, or with, a festival. Within each room, an artist has established a setting inspired by a song, and in which the song and art are presented together. Simple in concept maybe, but beautifully intricate and delightfully imaginative in execution.

On arrival, visitors “purchase” a ticket (they’re actually free) from the box office. This delivers a teleport HUD (just grant it permission to act on your avatar when worn), and some introductory notes. Then all that’s required is to ensure local sounds enabled, as the audio isn’t streamed, but played in-world, and the region’s windlight is being used. Then it’s a case of clicking on one of the musical notes in the HUD under each of the artists’ names. For the sake of convenience, I took the destinations in their numerical order.

Distrito Disinto, MetaLES: Bryn Oh's
Distrito Disinto, MetaLES: Bryn Oh – Keep the Streets Empty for Me

The artists who have actively contributed to the installation are Betty Tureaud (musical piece: She’s a Rainbow by the Rolling Stones); Giovanna Cerise (Innuendo by Queen); JadeYu Fhang (What Your Soul Sings by Massive Attack); Maya Paris (Oh, Bondage! Up Yours! by X-Ray Spex); Cica Ghost (Lullaby by The Cure); Rebeca Bashly (Chop Suey by System of a Down);  Bryn Oh (Keep the Streets Empty for Me by Fever Ray); Romy Nayar (Nuit d’hiver (Chloé) by Mylène Farmer); Alpha Auer (Grid Factory by Alpha Auer); and Eupalinos Ugajin (Rockingchair by Estudio, Trabajo Y Fusil!).

Selavy Oh is also listed as a contributing artist, but there is no corresponding teleport option in the HUD. I assume this is because Selavy was unable to participate and the introductory note card was not updated.

Distrito Disinto, MetaLES - Maya Paris: Oh Bondage! Up Yours!
Distrito Disinto, MetaLES: Maya Paris – Oh Bondage! Up Yours!

To describe each of the pieces offered would be to negate the point of seeing them yourself. Suffice it to say that each offers an interesting interpretation on the subject matter of the chosen song, which ranges from the thought-provoking through to the light-hearted and witty, to some hints of pathos through to outright irreverence in the most wonderful of ways (who else could mix Oh Bondage, Up Yours!, Diana Rigg’s Mrs Emma Peel, Eartha Kitt’s Catwoman and flying saucers so brilliantly, than Maya Paris 🙂 ).

However, and while I enjoyed all the pieces on offer through the installation, and really don’t want to appear as if I’m singling any out over the others (not the least because those who collaborated represent some of my favourite artists), I have to say I was particularly drawn to Alpha Auer’s Grid Factory. There is a nuanced beauty to this piece that’s suggestive of many things, and return visits have drawn me back to it perhaps just a little more than some of the other pieces here. Be sure to pick-up your Grid Factory avatar from Alpha when you visit.

Distrito Disinto, MetaLES: Alpha Auer - Grid Factory
Distrito Disinto, MetaLES: Alpha Auer – Grid Factory

I also confess to enjoying Bryn’s interpretation of Keep the Streets Empty for Me, which offers an interactive piece that’s best shared  – thank you to Gem, Kate and Tutsy in joining me for a little house building – or is that house clearing?

Distrito Disinto is open through until August 13th – so go, enjoy!

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